Migration Due To Climate Change
Discuss any connections between climate change and recent global migration patterns from the global south to the global north.
In the middle of the Indian Ocean, lies a tiny country comprising of twenty-six islands, known as The Maldives. Along with its immense popularity for tourism, now it is also famous for being the flattest country on the planet. In the past couple of decades, as rising of sea levels due to climate change have become a detrimental environmental hazard, Maldives is faced with the possibility of someday being engulfed by the ocean. In recent years, its government has expressed interest in “buying a new homeland”, preferably in its neighboring countries of India and Sri Lanka due to their cultural similarity, although talks with Australia are also being held. This concept of purchasing or seeking a new homeland is a prime example of migration. Driven by nature’s unfortunate course, the promise of better living conditions in a new country, has led to Maldivians considering this option, demonstrating that environmental refugees exist. And that people from the global south to the global north do not only escape from economic and/or political instabilities. While constituting as a golden example, Maldives isn’t the only country severely threatened by this phenomenon. Other examples include Guyana, where its capital Georgetown relies of seawalls for protection from rising sea levels, or Lima in Peru where the water supply is decreasing with the Andes glaciers shrinking, or Costa Rica whose coffee industry has become more vulnerable due to warming temperatures. With water, food and land coming under threat for all, humans are moving homes to go to areas where these essentials are relatively more available.
Since the Agrarian Revolution, humans have persistently been responsible for bringing drastic changes to the environment. Human activities of industrial processes, fossil fuel combustion, deforestation and factory farming have led to greenhouse gases increasing, which then contributed to global climate change. The result of this has been increased water, food, and land insecurity as humans are being displaced in their quest for adequate amount of these things for themselves. There is now a larger competition amongst people for these natural resources, either due to their scarcity or inaccessibility. Deforestation is an example widely used to depict how humans have changed the face of the Earth. The factories which continue to replace trees, only build up the stress on the Ozone Layer, continuing its depletion. This depletion which has directly led to warming temperature, has made people worried and are therefore finding ways to escape their hot regions. And how exactly are people doing that other than improving technology? Migration. Another example one can look at is of Campbell, MacKinnon and Stevens quoting NASA, “Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets are shedding about 125 billion tons of ice per year — enough to raise sea levels by 0.35 millimeters (0.01 inches) per year” (124). We can clearly comprehend from this statement, and from previously illustrated examples, that the flooding which will result from rising sea levels, threaten inhabitants of coasts and low-lying delta regions. As one would predict, people from these areas would try and move to lesser threatening areas where they feel the guarantee of their homes and lives being secure. Not only in terms of the global temperature, but climate change has also brought diseases, such as malaria due to floods (which again, follows rising sea levels and increased precipitation). This would also make for an unsafe environment for families who would seek to find homes in a more hygienic environment given the stability of their financial situation.
Overall, through climate change we can see how nature is now beginning to force humans almost into becoming nomadic again, as they must move around to find the most amount of resources for themselves. While it is an unfortunately reality that we have arrived to, every person must take an initiative at their part to ensure that they leave an inhabitable planet for the future generations of humans and other animals, rather than steadily worsening it.
Scientists, U. of C. (2011). Global warming hot spots. Retrieved March 6, 2017.
Campbell, P. J., MacKinnon A., Stevens C. R. (2010). Introduction to Global Politics.